Week 2 commencing 9th June 2012 

We both slept well during our first evening in Salt Lake City Utah (see position "A" on route map) and didn't really notice the passing freight trains or the warning horns either.... that's certainly a great blessing. Our condo was a basement job down half a flight of stairs so only half of it is above ground. Some tiny shallow windows at eye height barely succeed in convincing us that we are not moles. Of course this type of architecture is rarely encountered in the Southern Hemisphere. However, if you watch Law & Order on television, it's the type of place where they find a dead body at the foot of the stairs every second episode.

The thing is that at $130 per night in the summer season the price was attractive for a fully self contained two bedroom unit located midway between airport and downtown in a State capital city. And although the condo is tiny it's quite well fitted out and has cable TV and WiFi internet thrown in as well.

Salt Lake City is the only REAL city we'll be visiting for the next seven weeks although Americans tend to call any place with more an 100 inhabitants a city.... I don't know why. You can enter a small cluster of homes which most of us would call  a hamlet, a village a town or a suburb but no, this is apparently the City of Dog's Breath, Utah or whatever. It's just a different way of looking at the word "city" I guess.

Our first day in Salt Lake City (definitely a city) involves a number of chores and a treat. One of the chores involves slimming down our over stuffed bags by dividing our possessions into "definitely need" and "maybe need" categories. The "maybe need" bundle then gets stuffed into a large plastic bag we can leave in the back of the car. It saves us lugging really heavy bags in and out of accommodations and also makes it easier to find what we need. It's a well practiced technique which has served us well over the years, especially when trips take us through multiple climate zones. 

Mega Walmart store - Bring your best walking shoes and a GPS

Get in line, we've over 30 checkouts waiting to serve you.... slowly

Another chore involves a trip to a Walmart Superstore for groceries and other things we'll need for our trip. I both love and hate Walmart. For those readers who haven't been exposed to Walmart it's like combining a Big W, a K-Mart, and a Woolies Supermarket,  then putting them into the world's largest football stadium and feeding them all on steroids. At the only entrance to the complex you then place 30 of the world's slowest check-out chicks.... at least 75% of whom have real attitude as well as PMT. That's Walmart !! Anyhow we finally loaded up with all we needed, including a very cheap small picnic table and chairs which we'll ditch at the end of our long road trip. During this shopping sojourn I've had to make two trips to the Rest Room, which is naturally a mile away at the other corner of the store. At the end of all this we wheeled TWO hugely loaded trolleys up to the cashier and waited.... and waited.... in line. Finally everything got scanned and the total was equal to the cost of 5 pairs of undies, a large watermelon and a six pack of sardines back in Australia!! Well, maybe a slight exaggeration but my friends, Mr and Mrs Walmart definitely provide great value for money.

We rocked up to the local Red Lobster Restaurant franchise

Two Maine lobster tails - What a tasty treat

Now for the treat. We're going to have lunch at a Red Lobster Restaurant. Yeah, ok folks, I know it's another food story but please grin and bear it because a number of your fellow readers are foodies like me. I just love this restaurant chain because it's about the only place I know where one can get a good feed of lobster without going bankrupt . Most of the lobsters come from Maine and having spent a week there once I know how incredibly prolific they are over over on the east coast and that's what makes them so incredibly cheap in the US, compared to Aussie prices. We made the most of it.

Of course Salt Lake City in Utah is the spiritual home and Head Office of the incredibly successful Mormon Church, or more accurately "The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints". I know very little about the Mormons other than the fact that they came to Utah as a group after being persecuted elsewhere. And as a result of daringly allowing a couple of Mormon missionaries through my front door more than 50 years ago I know a little about founders Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the angel Moroni..... full stop and period. What really piques my interest is the Mormon's fabulously successful Sales,  Administration and Missionary networks which reaches out throughout the entire world. Nowadays it's a massive church enterprise and by and large conducts it affairs with very little controversy, compared to some other Christian pathways.

Lynn and I drove down to Temple Square which is the large Mormon precinct in downtown Salt Lake City. It was a lovely sunny day and we couldn't help but be impressed by the impressive buildings plus the gorgeous lawns and gardens. Everything was beautifully designed, constructed by first rate craftsmen and impeccably maintained. The other impressive feature was that there were so many neat and well dressed worshipers and international Morman visitors ambling around Temple Square in happy friendly family groups. I found it quite uplifting. We were approached many times by helpful multi-lingual guides but none of these tried to "get down to business" so to speak. It was all pretty impressive and a handful of photos appear below

We THINK this was "just" the Utah State Capital building

Worshippers stroll through lovely gardens behind Mormon Temple

Full size brass statue "The Family" in downtown Mormon precinct

Mormon Tabernacle church in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City downtown Mormon Temple

Massive marble statue of Christ in Mormon Information Centre

The next day we left Salt Lake City and drove a fair distance west into Rock Springs in Wyoming (see route map). We were disappointed with the scenery along the way which was of the type we describe as "fairly flat grey desert". I rather like a "good" desert but the flat and grey type leaves me cold. Around mid afternoon prudence made me pull of the highway for 40 winks. With the benefit of hindsight I'll now mention that this almost became "de rigueur" over the next 10 days. Quite remarkable for someone who has rarely been known to ever sleep during the day. Must be a bit of travel exhaustion and the fact that I'll be 70 years old in a few months time.

Several people had pre-warned us that Rock Springs WY was an abysmal bugger of a joint but it turned out to be relatively neat and clean in a grey desert kind of way. We had booked a King room with kitchenette through Homewood Suites by Hilton. We were surprised to be given a two bedroom suite with two massive sized bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen facilities and a decent sized combined lounge and dining room as well. We were also informed that all guests in the hotel were entitled to an admittedly basic but totally gratis hot breakfast and dinner. All this for $135 per night!! Now that's what I call value.

The following day was allocated to a circumnavigation of a large area known as Flaming Gorge. I'm not sure how many miles that involved but it took us all day. We saw lots of wildlife and the scenery was great, especially after the previous day's flat grey desert experience. We may have miss-identified some of the animals so please correct me if you know better. Here's a few photos.

A cheeky little chipmunk.... Well I think its a chipmunk

Lynn walking around the rim of Red Canyon

Feel free to suggest a suitable caption if you dare

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep - Females I'm informed

As we drove around Flaming Gorge we were intrigued to be passing through many different and distinct geological zones. It made for a very interesting day, especially given lots of different wildlife species encountered along the way.

We set up our el cheapo table and chairs under Ponderosa pines

Looking down on Green River from rim of Red Canyon

Another view of Red Canyon and Green River

Very pleasing, highly zoomed shot of a pronghorn antelope

Just because it looked like quite a nice shot to my Aussie eye

A view  into a portion of the very extensive Flaming Gorge

Leaving Rock Springs Wyoming early next morning we faced up to a long drive northwards into Idaho. We've planned a rather circuitous course in order to take in various lakes and attractions along the way.

Obviously I wasn't the person who took this boring photo !!

We've seen lots and lots of Ground Squirrels

This is the first time I've been to Idaho so I'm looking forward cutting another notch on the barrel. Of the six States we're visiting during this tour, Idaho and Montana are "firsts" for both of us and I'll be seeing a lot more of Wyoming and Colorado than I've ever seem before.

We finally arrived at Tetonia (see route map) a tiny town in Idaho but we couldn't find our rented self contained cabin for love nor money. The entire town and rural surroundings are arranged in a numbered grid pattern which is a little weird for an Aussie but it turned out to be really weird for our GPS system too. We tried all sorts of possibilities but we kept ending up in the boondocks and never finding the street number we required. Eventually I saw a couple of people mowing the grass in a very small graveyard. I stopped and asked their assistance and a lady whipped out her mobile, made a few calls and eventually put us on the right track. About nine months ago the town council apparently decided to add a zero to all street numbers..... only our TomTom GPS didn't know about that. The cabin owner had correctly given us a street address of 5000 W Street but our GPS needed to be told 500 W Street because it was still using old map data.

Anyhow, I'm here to testify that you can meet some very nice (live) people in a rural cemetery.

Our self contained cabin on 11 acres in Tetonia Idaho

Hummingbird wings beat between 10 to 80 beats per second !!

Lynn prepared a simple al fresco lunch we enjoyed on verandah

A view of the Grand Teton Mountains from our Idaho cabin

It was too bad that we had only allowed for a two night stay in Tetonia. It was intended to be a just a brief respite because our next stop in Montana was too far from Rock Springs WY to do it in one day. In fact our little cabin in Tetonia was a real treat because it was wonderfully situated on 11 acres beside a small stream facing the western side of the Grand Teton Mountains. Actually we were directly opposite Jackson Hole, which was only 50 miles away on the Wyoming side of the of the Grand Tetons. Many of you will recall that we were in that part of the world around this time last year and fell in love with the idea of making a more extensive tour of multiple Rocky Mountain States. Little did we realise we'd be back here again so quickly.

We just rested and enjoyed the cabin and its environment during our one full day in Tetonia Idaho. For only the second time only in our life we found ourselves amongst heaps of hummingbirds. What a unique treat for any Australian! Anyhow the photos above and below may help to depict our very relaxed and happy day here in Idaho.

Lynn optimistically searched for trout in our little stream

A beautiful Oriole stealing nectar from a hummingbird feeder

The morning sunrise viewed from our cabin in Tetonia Idaho

Another view of Grand Teton Mountain.

This has been a jam packed week and it ain't over yet. From Tetonia in Idaho we drove northwards to Virginia City in Southern Montana so please click here to experience the latter part of Week 2.

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